Festivals in Peru: between traditions and modernities
Traditional festivals in Peru
Peru is much more than Machu Picchu. This country rich in history has many festivals traditionally held. There are many opportunities to discover Andean culture under an explosion of color, wild rhythms and the joy of the locals who will leave their mark on you forever.
The feast of the Virgen de la Candelaria in Puno (early February)
Every year, the birth of the Inca world is celebrated in Puno, a city located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world (3,800 m above sea level). The “capital of folklore of South America” is proud of its Quechua past and has many legends and religious traditions. These are the tears of the Sun God that would have formed Lake Titicaca. The children of the Sun God would be born from the foam of the lake.
In this magnificent landscape, between the Andes and some forty islands, this festival is celebrated. Declared “UNESCO World Heritage Site”, it is one of the most impressive in Peru. Some 40,000 dancers and musicians unite to honor the “Virgen de la Candelaria”, the patron saint of the city. On the island of Uros, the rite is to dance and sometimes sacrifice an alpaca for the occasion.
Carnivals of Peru (mid-February – mid-March)
Popular and lively, carnivals are very festive in Peru. There is something for everyone. The cities lean back to celebrate them, as in Cajamarca or Ayacucho. Richly decorated for the occasion, the cities are full of many colors. The inhabitants wear traditional clothes, sing in Quechua (but also in Spanish, you can be sure) and dance to lively rhythms.
The “carnavalon boy” is one of the best known characters. It represents the soul of the spirits of our ancestors who come to life each year to celebrate carnival with us. After being offered offerings (symbol of fertility and abundance), the latter is burned during Ash Wednesday, representing the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.
The Qoyllority Pilgrimage (May)
Recognized as the largest indigenous pilgrimage on the American continent. It is here, at the foot of the Ausangate glacier (more than 6,300 m above sea level), in the Quispicanchis province, near Cusco, where Andean and Catholic traditions are mixed. More than 10,000 members of indigenous nations unite to pay tribute to Jesus and the spirits of the mountain. Some even climb the mountain to bring blocks of ice to irrigate their lands with this sacred water. And of course, as in all Peruvian celebrations, there are many dances, songs, and even fireworks!
The Holy Sacrament: Corpus Christi (June)
This festival is part of the traditions imported from Europe to the “New World” by the colonists. Very religious, the latter is celebrated in many Catholic countries. But in Peru, however, it is even more impressive, especially in Cusco! The 16 most venerated saints in the region in question marched to the city’s cathedral to greet the body of Christ.
Many typical dishes are served for the occasion, including the famous “cuy” (guinea pig in French!) Accompanied in particular by corn and chili. The perfect opportunity for you to try delicious Andean cuisine!
The feast of the Sun King, or the Inti Raymi (June 24)
It is the largest party in Latin America (after the Rio de Janeiro carnival in Brazil). Based on their origins from Inca beliefs, Peruvians unite to celebrate the Sun God (“Inti” means “Sun” and “Raymi” means “celebration” in Quechua). It is in Cusco (ancient capital of the Inca empire) in the temple of the sun, or “Coricancha” in Quechua, where the party is in full swing. Between dances and typical songs, the Sun God is invoked and prayed to receive his protection.
In Inca mythology, it is the universal God Viracocha who created Inti, the God of the Sun. These are considered the two most important (especially Inti!), Hence the importance of showing appreciation through important celebrations. Also on the Inca calendar, this day marks the beginning of the new year. So do you want to celebrate the new year in mid-June?
Finally, National Day (July 28-29)
Very proud of their country, Peruvians do not stop celebrating, as it should be the country’s independence marked by the national holiday of July 28. Popular music on every street, fireworks, and grand parades are in the spotlight. In Lima, there are also cannon fire and military parades, with, of course, the president’s speech. For this festive occasion, Peruvians drink more than a little, and it is to rest well that July 29 is also a holiday.